As part of its 75th birthday celebration, Capitol Records reissues a vinyl version of Peggy Lee’s 1969 album Is That All There Is?, featuring an unforgettable title song by the legendary team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, arranged and conducted by Randy Newman.
Peggy’s popularity never particularly waned throughout the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s — over three decades she recorded steadily, performed live regularly, and appeared often on radio and television. But by the late ’60s, during a period of enormous cultural turmoil and amid a music industry dominated by youth and rock and roll, Peggy and her contemporaries who emerged from the big band era faced professional obsolescence, at least on the Top 40 record charts. At 49, Peggy defied all expectations — including those of some Capitol executives — with Is That All There Is? spending 10 weeks on the Billboard charts in the fall of 1969, peaking at #11, in the company of hits by the Beatles, the Temptations, Elvis Presley, and the Fifth Dimension. Her unlikely hit also proved popular with the Recording Academy, earning a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year and winning Peggy a Grammy in the category of Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Female. She promoted the song that fall with performances on The Dean Martin Show, The Kraft Music Hall, and a documentary for National Educational Television, The World of Peggy Lee.
The album that was released to build on the title song’s success was not unlike most of Peggy’s albums of the era in its diverse mix of old and new. She reached back to the 1920s with Me and My Shadow (the B-side for Is That All There Is? as a single), the 1930s with My Old Flame, and the 1940s with a reinterpretation of her early Capitol hit Don’t Smoke in Bed. On the contemporary side she included songs by such popular new writers and performers as George Harrison (Something), Neil Diamond (Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show), Randy Newman (Love Story and Johnny), and two additional Leiber and Stoller songs, Whistle for Happiness and I’m a Woman. The latter was the album’s only non-recent recording, having been made with jazz great Benny Carter in 1962. It too received a Grammy nomination.
(The downloadable version of Is That All There Is? includes four additional songs that appeared on the original UK version of this album: Sing a Rainbow, Somethin’ Stupid, I Can Hear the Music, and You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby. These all originally appeared on Peggy’s 1967 album Somethin’ Groovy! which was not released in the UK.)
For more on Peggy’s Is That All There Is? read this recent article by Charles Waring of uDiscoverMusic.
1. Is That All There Is?
2. Love Story
3. Me and My Shadow
4. My Old Flame
5. I’m a Woman
6. Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show
8. Whistle for Happiness
9. Johnny (Linda)
10. Don’t Smoke in Bed